ANNALS OF W AR
What the generals don’t know.
BY DAN BAUM
uring the early weeks of the Iraq war, the television set in my ofﬁce was tuned all day to CNN,with the sound muted. On the morning of April 3rd, as the Army and the Marines were closing in on Baghdad, I happened to look up at what appeared to be a disaster in the making. A small unit of American soldiers was walking along a street in Najaf
thought. A shot will come from somewhere, the Americans will open ﬁre, and the world will witness the My Lai massacre of the Iraq war. At that moment, an American ofﬁcer stepped through the crowd holding his riﬂe high over his head with the barrel pointed to the ground. Against the backdrop of the seething crowd, it was a striking gesture—almost
In Iraq, the Army’s innovative junior ofﬁcers have learned to learn from each other.
when hundreds of Iraqis poured out of the buildings on either side. Fists waving, throats taut, they pressed in on the Americans, who glanced at one another in terror. I reached for the remote and turned up the sound. The Iraqis were shrieking, frantic with rage. From the way the lens was lurching, the cameraman seemed as frightened as the soldiers. This is it, I
42 THE NEW YORKER, JANUARY 17, 2005
Biblical. “Take a knee,” the ofﬁcer said, impassive behind surfer sunglasses. The soldiers looked at him as if he were crazy. Then, one after another, swaying in their bulky body armor and gear, they knelt before the boiling crowd and pointed their guns at the ground. The Iraqis fell silent, and their anger subsided. The ofﬁcer ordered his men to withdraw.
It took two months to track down Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hughes, who by then had been rotated home. He called from his father’s house, in Red Oak, Iowa, en route to study at the Army War College, in Pennsylvania. I wanted to know who had taught him to tame a crowd by pointing his riﬂe muzzle down and having his men kneel. Were those gestures peculiar to Iraq? To Islam? My questions barely made sense to Hughes. In an unassuming, persistent Iowa tone, he assured me that nobody had prepared him for an angry crowd in an Arab country, much less the tribal complexities of Najaf. Army ofﬁcers learn in a general way to use a helicopter’s rotor wash to drive away a crowd, he explained. Or they fire warning shots.“Problem with that is, the next thing you have to do is shoot them in the chest.” Hughes had been trying that day to get in touch with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a delicate task that the Army considered politically crucial. American gunﬁre would have made it impossible. The Iraqis already felt that the Americans were disrespecting their mosque. The obvious solution, to Hughes, was a gesture of respect. Hughes made it sound obvious, but, shortly before the Americans invaded Iraq, the Army had concluded that its ofﬁcers lacked the ability to do precisely what he did: innovate and think creatively. In 2000, the new Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki, was determined to shake up the Army and suspected that about half of a soldier’s training was meaningless and “non-essential.” The job of ﬁguring out which half went to Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Wong (retired), a research professor of military strategy at the Army War College. At forty-ﬁve, Wong is handsome and voluble, with the air of a man who makes his living prodding the comfortable. Wong found that the problem was not “bogus” training exercises but worthwhile training being handled in such a way as to stiﬂe fresh thinking. The Army had so loaded training schedules with doctrinaire requirements and standardized procedures that unit commanders had no time—or need—to think for themselves. The service was encouraging “reactive instead of proactive thought, compliance instead of creativity, and adherence instead of audacity,” Wong wrote in his report. As one captain put it to him, “They’re giving me
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Fallujah. and German troops persisted in attempting to storm trenches before recognizing the defensive supremacy of the machine gun. He and an active-duty ofﬁcer ﬂew to bases all over Iraq.” Wong told me. but. “I sympathize.” Wong’s report generated no policy changes. with its own special learning curve. you invite failure. like closeorder formations.the egg and telling me how to suck it.” Wong’s ﬁndings impressed Shinseki. In the First World War. Every war is different from the last. “You can’t tell whether you’re dealing with a former Baathist. Some of the generals were suspicious. British. a foreign terrorist. 2005
TNY—01/17/05—PAGE 43—133SC. Even more important.” Wong ﬂew to Baghdad last April. or devout believers. had been trained and equipped to ﬁght against numbered. a year after the supposed cessation of “major combat operations. by stating plainly what many knew instinctively. mechanized regiments in open-maneuver warfare. the Army’s marquee high-tech weapons are often sidelined while the enemy kills and maims Americans with bombs wired to garagedoor openers or doorbells. JANUARY 17. a common criminal. who lead platoons of about thirty soldiers. Army manuals taught Napoleonic tactics. the French. scrambling to bring order to Mosul. who command companies of one to two hundred. In the American Civil War. it started the Army thinking about how to free up its junior ofﬁcers’ decision-making. even though they were suicidal against riﬂed muskets that could kill accurately at three hundred yards. and Baghdad. and captains. others openly hostile. interviewing lieutenants. Then came Iraq.—#3 PAGE
.” to ﬁnd out how the “reactive” and “compliant” junior ofﬁcers the Army had trained were performing amid the insurgency. who in February of 2001 sent him into the lion’s den of a two-star generals’ conference to present his research. They had been taught to avoid
THE NEW YORKER. “I don’t think there’s one single person in the Army or the intelligence community that can break down the demographics of the enemy we’re facing. “When you allow people to innovate and to lead. but there is a growing sense within the Army that Iraq signals something more signiﬁcant. These ofﬁcers.” an Airborne captain named Daniel Morgan told me. In Iraq. the Army is facing an enemy whose motivation it doesn’t understand.
online. they enunciate like radio announcers. The Army. information that the Army does not control. Ask an Army ofﬁcer a painful question and he or she will answer it.“It is harassing ﬁre and scares recruits. no place off the base for Americans to remove their body armor in the presence of locals. For efﬁciency of conversation. Platoon and company commanders were exercising their initiative to the point of occasional genius. Wong found ﬁeld artillerymen. some needlessly. Baby boomers moved up the ranks during the comfortable clarity of the Cold War. to train soldiers in Iraq-speciﬁc tactics. Few had received pre-deployment training in improvised explosive devices. but the Gen Xers came of age during messy peacekeeping missions in Kosovo. “Teach not to waste ammunition. and also receives a ﬂood of daily “after action reviews” from line ofﬁcers.This turns out to be a positive development for the Army. stays out of their way. The younger ofﬁcers have another advantage over their superiors: they grew up with the Internet. and Haiti. CALL would ask trainers what mistakes were being repeated and would write up the results in four bulletins a year. Nineteen service members died in the operation. as Donald Rumsfeld discovered in December. CALL still distributes lessons on paper—in binders. opens with a video-game graphic of a Humvee hitting a mine and being ﬁred upon by guerrillas: men scream. with a kind of Boy Scout candor all but unknown in. In response.D. according to Army surveys of both groups. Defense Department civilians. Communications were so poor that soldiers had to rely on pay phones. JANUARY 17. born in the mid-sixties or after. Kansas. Until you demonstrate changed behavior. ofﬁcers heading into combat buttonholed veterans or gleaned what they could over evening beers at the Ofﬁcers’ Club to ﬁll holes in their training. thirty analysts. you haven’t learned a lesson. “The Japanese ﬁre is not always aimed. Yet he found the opposite. in booklets designed to ﬁt in the cargo pocket of a soldier’s fatigues. which should have been relatively straightforward but instead was a mess. unhesitating sentences.ﬁghting in cities at all costs.” In short. 1983. 2005
handed authority. often the product of single-parent homes or homes in which both parents worked. and he said. There may be a generational explanation. and coalition allies. All were working with what Wong calls “a surprising lack of detailed guidance from higher headquarters. while infantrymen were building sewer systems and running town councils. Moreover. when enlisted soldiers questioned him sharply about the lack of armor on their vehicles. such as directing helicopter close-air support. there are no bars or brothels in Baghdad where Americans can relax.” a sergeant wrote. Instead of looking up to the Army for instructions. the Iraq that Wong found is precisely the kind of unpredictable environment in which a cohort of hidebound and inﬂexible ofﬁcers would prove disastrous. in complete. in past tense. a means of sharing with one another. came Operation Urgent Fury.s. and engineers serving as infantrymen. in their spare time.” The booklets were imprecise. because the exigencies of the Iraq war are forcing the decision-making downward. Gen X ofﬁcers. I asked Saul what lessons the Army has learned in Iraq. Colonel Larry Saul. to its credit. Trained to convey critical information under stress. and unidirectional.it now has two in Afghanistan and ﬁve in Iraq.E. Every encounter was potentially hostile. they tend to be good listeners. are markedly more self-reliant and conﬁdent of their abilities than their baby-boomer superiors. Bosnia. They were perhaps the most isolated occupation force in history. who says
he is “one of about a hundred Vietnam vets still on active duty. CALL placed “embeds”—full-time liaison ofﬁcers—with the soldiers. the lessons came not from combat but from the training centers in California and Louisiana where troops go to experience a week or two of lifelike combat. identify trends. because lessons learned. During the battles of Bosnia and Kosovo. “Not much. and have created for themselves. Intelligence was so spotty that troops used tourist maps to ﬁnd their way around the island. provided it doesn’t involve secrets. which were then ﬁled away and largely forgotten. The segment ends with a car-
TNY—01/17/05—PAGE 44—133SC. he shares with most of his colleagues a strikingly direct manner of speaking. in 1993 and 1999.The Web changed everything. means you’ve modiﬁed behavior. Whatever else the Iraq war is doing to American power and prestige. But the centerpiece of CALL is its Web site. in October. most lieutenants and captains are of Generation X.s. say. against the government of Grenada. they are teaching themselves how to ﬁght the war. While most high-ranking ofﬁcers are baby boomers. the corporate or political realm. Dark-haired at ﬁfty-four. Mostly. Gen Xers are notoriously unimpressed by rank. The “slackers” in the junior-ofﬁcer corps are turning out to be just what the Army needs in the chaos of Iraq. At Fort Leavenworth.—LIVE SPOT—26505—PLEASE REPORT AND INSPECT ON QUALITY
. digest the reviews. blood splatters. and reconcile the lessons with established Army doctrine. ofﬁcers use it before they are deployed. After Guadalcanal. the Army opened the Center for Army Lessons Learned—or CALL—at Fort Leavenworth. None had received any but the most rudimentary instruction in the Arabic language or in Iraqi culture. The reviews contain tips on everything from running ﬁeld kitchens to avoiding mortar attacks. or I. CALL was supposed to gather and distribute more efﬁciently the insights that soldiers glean from battle. all of them military retirees. the Army knocked together the insights of soldiers in combat and published them in cheap newsprint booklets called “The Mailing List. with a refreshing ability—and willingness—to get to the nub of a difﬁcult issue. for example. slow to arrive in the ﬁeld.” The system for recycling combat experience didn’t improve much for the next forty years. mid-battle. tank captains tell of being
44 THE NEW YORKER. One CALL lesson on I.” is CALL’s director.E. for tasks that used to be reserved for colonels. the insurgents’ signature weapon. rior to the Second World War. which is restricted to military personnel. Army ofﬁcers are tough to beat. Somalia.” wrote one Marine colonel. and on plasticized pocket cards. The chronic shortage of troops and shifting phases of ﬁghting and reconstruction forced soldiers into jobs for which they weren’t prepared.” In its early days. Then.D. it is producing the creative and ﬂexible junior ofﬁcers that the Army’s training could not. tankers.
” Allen told me. It didn’t occur to them to ask the Army for permission or support. and then passed down to Tony.toon sergeant grading the answers to a test:“That’s a go. which allows for lots of unmediated. and only special computers can reach it.The sign read “Welcome to Fallujah.E. they lived next door to each other and spent many evenings sitting on Allen’s front porch comparing
notes. and strapped behind highway guardrails. during Ramadan.” When CALL wants to distribute highly sensitive material.—LIVE OPI ART A 10152
. suicide bombers have driven I. So ofﬁcers look for help elsewhere. or SIPRNET.” Benner told me when we spoke in a windowless conference room at the Pentagon.-style forensics on bombs and fragments to trace their makers and ﬁnanciers.D. in cyberspace. amazing people start to join.D. JANUARY 17. are dizzying.” Allen said. “and within twenty-four hours they were disseminated into training for units going to Iraq. irrelevant. and the Agency for International Development to Kellogg Brown & Root. and procedures could defeat that.D. They have also been found in the carcasses of dogs.”
List” in the Second World War. The Army way was to monTHE NEW YORKER. in venders’ carts.“This has to be aimed at them.” which they posted on a Web site. real-time cross-chat and debate. and we wanted to pass it along.” The problem with both CALL and the I.s into control points and Iraqi police stations. The Army identiﬁes a need. They ﬁgured that such a site for company commanders would replicate. prepares a response. soldier!” or “No go.” Allen said. which the Defense Department created in July to analyze the insurgents’ maddeningly simple yet deadly homemade bombs.” Lately.E.E.B.E. ajors Nate Allen and Tony Burgess became friends at West Point in the nineteen-eighties. and usually get a response within twenty-four hours. techniques. (In Iraq. 2005 45
TNY—01/17/05—PAGE 45—133SC. “The ﬁeld team investigated and wrote up what tactics. “Taking the Guidon. “If I had a good idea about how to do something. Because of the Internet. they put up a site on the civilian Internet called Companycommand. Benner showed me a picture of a road sign that had a big bomb hidden inside it. “How are things going with your ﬁrst sergeant?” one would ask.B. which lets sportsmen post questions and solicit advice about everything from how to skin a squirrel by yanking on its tail to how to call a turkey by blowing on a wing bone.s mutated into what Benner calls moving-vehicle-on-moving-vehicle attacks: a car zips between two vehicles in a rolling convoy and explodes. and both Allen and Burgess felt isolated. having been processed in the maw of Army doctrine. it is available at the battalion level. and it looks for techniques that soldiers can use to spot and disarm them. and at the end of the nineties they found themselves commanding companies in separate battalions in the same Hawaii-based brigade. we realized this conversation was having a positive impact on our units. Companycommand was an affront to protocol. It uses F. The task force posts on SIPRNET intelligence that it gathers from all four military services and a hundred and thirty-three different government and private agencies.” Luckily.s ﬁrst appeared in large numbers along roadsides during an insurgent offensive in Baghdad. Benner said. Lieutenant Colonel Ernie Benner is one of about eighty members of the Joint I. and. in November.I.I. it uses the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network. “There is no technology silver bullet. but most ofﬁcers told me that the information often seems stale or. “Once you start a project.They wrote a book about commanding a company.) The Army is struggling to ﬁgure out the Iraq war even while it’s up to its neck in it. soldier!” “Some of our soldiers are nineteen years old. there was no natural way to share it. its messages travel over separate wires. but rarely at the company level. Or “How are you dealing with the wives?”“At some point.” Colonel Saul explained. ranging from the F.“I’d have to pass it up. 2003. Task Force is that their information is as unidirectional as “The Mailing
“We’re still moving in. what had started as a one-way transfer of information—a book—quickly became a conversation. But the daily puzzles a company commander faces. a company is big enough to be powerful and small enough to be intimate.com. even in peacetime.D.E.com. The war in Iraq is so confusing and it changes so fast that there’s often no time to wait for carefully vetted and spoon-fed advice. I. Ofﬁcers in the ﬁeld can e-mail questions to CALL. In March of 2000. the tactics for delivering I. in September. their front porch. and it would have to be blessed two levels above me. with the help of a Web-savvy West Point classmate and their own savings. Commanding a company is often described as the best job in the Army. and hands it down from the top. Defeat Task Force. Burgess and Allen liked the Alloutdoors model.D. Among them was a captain based at West Point who was familiar with a Web site called Alloutdoors. SIPRNET is walled off from the civilian Internet.” Benner said.
But you might be able to get away with a Playboy or two as long as you’re not stupid about it. and sergeant major—the battalion’s entire leadership—jumped up and sped to the site. Captains post comments on coping with fear. Take pictures of everything and even. and on counselling suicidal soldiers. She got a call saying that Sergeant First Class Ricky Crockett had been killed—the unit’s ﬁrst death. and the mission are in danger. ‘Look at this regulation. especially in an up-armored humvee. the battalion commander. we are not welcome during the mourning period. which are accessible to captains and lieutenants with a password. I got my ﬁrst response. The sites. Captain Raymond Kimball.” she said. and many say they’ll ﬁnd at least ten or ﬁfteen minutes every day to check the site. maybe more importantly. Jolly Ranchers will get all nasty and sticky though. whose job is to manage pay. Supply each
soldier with one tourniquet. for lieutenants.’ they told me.E.’ I learned how to report it up.” she told me. If a person is responsible for the death of an individual. A single wall of sandbags will not stop any signiﬁcant munitions. be sure to accept the items with the right hand. Even with the best socks. and Soldiers and Families. . but as a commander. learned from CompanyTNY—01/17/05—PAGE 46—133SC. Vary the departure and return times. the less likely the enemy will mess with you. your feet are likely to start peeling like you’ve never experienced. If they’re shooting ﬁve to seven mortar rounds into your forward operating base. on motivating soldiers to break the taboo against killing. or not pay attention. You need to train your soldiers to aim.” A year later. She’d had minimal training. It’s not always easy to reach the pistol when in the thigh holster. If tea or coffee are offered. and all day I got e-mails. etc. they do not attend during the three days of mourning. your soldiers. The second you see your soldiers start to lose interest.”
Captain Stephanie Gray was a twentyfour-year-old communications ofﬁcer in Baghdad when. You’re more likely to be injured by not wearing a seatbelt than from enemy activity. and carry their M16/M4. Soldiers need reﬂexive and quick-ﬁre training.org. ﬁre. and kill. Do not let a casualty take your focus away from a combat engagement. There were death-beneﬁt papers to ﬁll out. It is okay to tell your soldiers what the regulation is. you should make the effort to get the soldier home for the birth. Tootsie Rolls are quite nice. or personal weapons. using burst ﬁre. Do not look at your watch when in the tent. alcohol. lighter ﬂuid. are windows onto the job of commanding soldiers and onto the unfathomable complexities of ﬁghting urban guerrillas.—LIVE OPI ART A10062—#2 PAGE—CARTOON CHANGE
. by custom they are accepting responsibility for your safety and by keeping on the body armor. “Some were from active military and some retired. and plenty of foot powder. Companycommand is divided into twelve areas. go for headshots if you use it. or ‘Here’s what I tried. Allen and Burgess started a second Web site.” She logged onto Companycommand and clicked feverishly through the site looking for guidance. and other personnel issues. Let’s talk about what not to bring: perishable food. They post tricks they’ve learned or
ask questions like this. If they accept you into the tent. On Gray’s ﬁrst morning on her own. that is why if we kill an individual in sector. each of which is broken into discussion threads on everything from mortar attacks to grief counselling and dishonest sergeants. The more aggressive you look and the faster you are. Cotton holds water. she was abruptly ordered to serve as her battalion’s adjutant. including Training. The 9mm round is too weak. which set off months of responses:“What has anyone tried to do to alleviate the mortar attacks on their forward operating bases?” Here are snippets of conversations posted on Companycommand and Platoonleader in the past year:
Never travel in a convoy of less than four vehicles.D. vary the routes even if the route includes a U turn. leaving Gray in the command tent. Platoonleader. Give your driver your 9mm. The right photo in the right hands can absolutely make the difference. The average local is terrible at trying to read a map. “but I had no idea what. whatever you’re doing needs to be readjusted. evaluation reports.itor and vet every posting to prevent secrets from being revealed. or roll their eyes. One was a chaplain. Finally she clicked “contact us” and explained her situation. The commander. executive ofﬁcer. in January of 2004. a lieutenant colonel phoned one of the Web site’s operators and advised them to get a lawyer. in Sadr City. your S2 has failed and you. a call came in at nine-thirty informing her that one of her battalion’s convoys had been struck by an I.” Two months before deploying to Iraq. . everyone. then look in the soldier’s ﬁle and generate letters from the company commander. we use a miniratchet strap that is one inch wide and long enough to wrap around the thigh of a soldier. because he didn’t want to see “good ofﬁcers crash and burn. . doesn’t make sense. Have the unit invest in Wiley X’s—these sunglasses also serve as sun-wind-dust goggles. porn. and the brigade commanders to his family. “Within thirty minutes. and on and on. Soon after the site went up. but Allen and Burgess ﬁgured that captains were smart enough to police themselves and not compromise security. “I knew there were a lot of things an adjutant needs to do when a soldier dies. Warﬁghting. you are sending a signal that you do not trust them. however they do understand sketches—the simpler the better. Some discussions are quite raw. Most captains now have access to the Internet at even the most remote bases in Iraq.
“Can I call you back? I’m with a piece of string. of the Seventh Cavalry.They advise each other on how to kick in doors and how to handle pregnant subordinates.
” Jordan said. on convoy training” went on for months. When General Shinseki failed to persuade Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to allocate more troops to the initial effort.” he told me. “There go the people. and two burning fuel tankers. six to nine hours out. “Iraq has released the capabilities that our leaders had. But can the Army as an institution be nimble enough to leverage them? Do we now sit these captains down and treat them as we used to? They all wear combat patches. Major General Peter Chiarelli. program at Notre Dame. was advised by Platoonleader to memorize the “nine-line” procedure for summoning medical-evacuation helicopters.where they will run the sites as part of their jobs.” Lieutenant Keith Wilson.” Little by little. who created the site. It was a nuisance.” Meeks wrote in a long e-mail from Iraq.
. Thirty years after the fall of Saigon.”
o matter how clever its captains and lieutenants are becoming in the face of the insurgency. JANUARY 17.” Major Patrick Michaelis. they’ll say. Though Companycommand and Platoonleader require passwords. and the thought process. admonitions to look upward as well as to the sides (guerrillas may shoot from rooftops and overpasses).”Captain Jason Miseli learned to stuff a medic into the scout Humvee that travels miles ahead of his tanks. they went to the site sixty-seven thousand times and looked at more than a million pages. who chose the military police as a woman’s back door into combat and is in Baghdad. the Army is absorbing Companycommand. as it’s known.“It’s one thing for individuals to be nimble mentally. steel (“It will stop AK-47 and most frag”).“The worst thing is. but Meeks pulled her notes on the procedure from her pocket. In 2002. Michaelis said.command never to send a vehicle bound for Iraq to the docks before checking its hydraulic lines for leaks. he appeared before the Senate Armed Services
THE NEW YORKER. a grenade was waiting. Cavnet is oriented. The Army also began paying the Web site’s expenses. earlier this year. “We had a guy put up something that wasn’t within the rules of engagement. Saul’s ambivalence about the Web sites is emblematic of the Army’s attitude. Sure enough. “Their stories prepare you mentally for what it is you’ll be facing when you get here. Amid the blood. 2005 47
TNY—01/17/05—PAGE 47—133SC. She took the precaution of writing the procedure on a slip of paper.“Hey guys. the military ﬁnds itself thrust into another war with limited public support. both sites now have military addresses. for I am their leader. Leonard Wong worries that an institution as hierarchical and doctrinaire as the Army will have trouble reining in its young ofﬁcers after the war. “It’s got to have a common curriculum. “What they actually did is of limited value. however. but it saved the life of Specialist Timothy Grifﬁn. but wear out Humvees). the screaming.S. but that we’d dulled and numbed previously.‘Yes.“and within half an hour the staff judge-advocate guys put a
response up.” Miseli said. for example.with no designated interpreter. and a determined enemy could learn a good deal about how ofﬁcers think. He spread the word among his men.s. but should be with their soldiers. It remains to be seen whether its appetite for learning the lessons of Iraq will extend to analyzing how it got into such a war in the ﬁrst place. CALL’s director.” He pointed out. and a few days later a soldier whom he’d sent to peel a poster off a wall peeked behind it ﬁrst. West Point put Platoonleader on its server. you deploy and ﬁnd out in Iraq that your vehicle is still on the wharf in Jacksonville. advice or comments . but it’s Companycommand or Platoonleader they check regularly and ﬁnd most useful. that CALL itself has found Companycommand useful. and suggestions for replacing vehicles’ canvas doors with 8-mm.T. the commanding general of the First Cavalry Division. they could presumably be hacked. Cavnet. “It’s the why.” Beyond the how-to details. read a “be on the look out” posting about insurgents who were wiring grenades behind posters of Moqtada al-Sadr. “Institutional education has three components. Lieutenant Brittany Meeks. In a hellish attack on a convoy last April. really.org.“What you get out of it may not be what I get out of it.” But.” Companycommand and Platoonleader are free-for-alls of shared experience.C. While CALL is used mostly in training units in the U. “Remember this is an open-source Web site. and common experience. told me. I must follow them.D. the Army may never be able to declare victory in Iraq. .The Army ﬁnds itself in a similar relationship with its junior-ofﬁcer corps. to “the next patrol. A lively discussion thread that began with a plea for “information. of all the Web-based means of sharing combat information. And the Army is starting to pay the Web sites the sincerest form of ﬂattery: in April.. ordered up a conversation site for his ofﬁcers. or more than a third of all captains in the Army. It sent all four of its founders to graduate school to earn Ph. a soldier was gravely wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade that exploded close to his head. “You may get the occasional Napoleon or Alexander the Great out of it. and a year later added Companycommand. counting on Americans to detonate the explosives when they ripped the posters down. the wounded man’s buddies were having trouble remembering what to do.O. to ten thousand.” Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin is said to have remarked during the 1848 revolutions in France. a dedicated cadre of trained instructors. Cavnet is the most immediate.” he said. wondered if “maybe captains shouldn’t be spending so much time in front of their computer. exists only on SIPRNET. Colonel Saul.com and Platoonleader. . so that they can become professors at West Point. as an ofﬁcial Army site. eliciting replies that became a CALL lesson on the subject. Ofﬁcer after ofﬁcer told me that they use CALL when they have the leisure. we’re doing things right. Have we changed anything in the organization to respond to that? If you go to any school or unit. CALL posted a request on Companycommand for advice on using interpreters in Iraq.“Even a little trace of hydraulic ﬂuid means it can’t be loaded on a ship or train. the Army is struggling.” Companycommand’s
membership more than doubled last year. Everything you type is being read by the enemy. and both Companycommand and Platoonleader are intended to build leadership skills and share general tips and tricks about ﬁghting in Iraq.” said Lieutenant Colonel Kelly Jordan. and is vetted. but it does nothing to raise the educational level of the ofﬁcer corps.” one captain wrote. insufﬁcient resources. the Web sites offer the comfort of connection to a brotherhood of ofﬁcers who are trying to master the same impossible job.’ but. an active-duty ofﬁcer who also runs the R. even if it meant hanging gear on the outside to make room. and a murky deﬁnition of success. with contradictory views on whether to lay sandbags on the ﬂoors of vehicles (they offer protection from mines.
They’re proud to be a part of “the most beautiful Army in the history of the world. a computerized weapon system that is so sophisticated it can spot an enemy mortar or rocket in midair. who dismissed warnings from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Vietnam War would be hard to win. and the people they’ve been sent to help seem to hate them more every day. to learn. His move failed. because they failed to publicly voice their misgivings. they are losing friends to weapons made from RadioShack gizmos.” written by an Army major named H. or whether generals might lobby more forcefully in the future. McMaster. But the lieutenant colonels and colonels who attend the War College will eventually ﬁnd themselves analyzing those early days of 2003.The talk of the convention was a book published in 1997 that the ofﬁcer corps has recently rediscovered.50-calibre sniper riﬂes. Despite their Buck Rogers technology. Within the tiny sliver of the war each sees. what Shinseki and I should have done is quit.Committee. White called it a measure of Rumsfeld’s contempt for the Army that he didn’t name a permanent Secretary of the Army to replace him until this past November. including how many troops would be needed. remarkably enthusiastic. “what steps were taken to get the Army’s point of view across. Section 2 of the Constitution makes the military subordinate to the civilian leadership.“Each one of those four went to their graves thinking they didn’t do enough to protest.” she said. and no fewer than six urged me to read it:“Dereliction of Duty. Volvo displayed its trucks. and ﬁre a response before the enemy round lands. This is their war. and his company for being so disciplined and professional that it could turn off the violence “like a good hunting dog.” as one recently returned captain put it. Many carried the volume under their arms. even if the connection between the attack and the war has been questioned.” They brag about the Q36. “Was the Army ten steps behind the line? Or did the Army go all the way to the line? I don’t know. a professor specializing in civil-military relations at the Army War College. “The Army’s pretty busy right now. said it’s too soon for the Army to be analyzing whether Shinseki could have played his hand better.They can’t imagine when or how they will earn a victory parade. Marybeth Ulrich. told me that the lesson the Army needs to take away from the run-up to Iraq is precisely the one no ofﬁcer wants to learn.’ ” The ofﬁcers ﬁghting in Iraq are. examples of brilliance and bravery abound. who was ﬁred from his job as Secretary of the Army in May of 2003 for clashing with Rumsfeld on a number of issues. Attractive women posed fetchingly beside Bradley Fighting Vehicles. as she put it. those who had been in combat distinguished by unit patches on the right arm rather than the left.‘We won’t be part of this. JANUARY 17. under cover of answering a senator’s question. Membership in the association is open both to Army personnel and the corporations that sell things to the Army.” and the Army invaded Iraq with about a hundred thousand soldiers. “If I had it to do again. and the Gallup Organization offered an array of “business improvement services. Using once classiﬁed Vietnam-era documents. o
TNY—01/17/05—PAGE 48—133SC.” White told me. he went public with his estimate that the war would require “several hundred thousand” troops. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz called Shinseki’s estimate “wildly off the mark. then the Secretary of Defense.”Upstairs.professional-development experts gave ofﬁcers tips on everything from “actionable intelligence” to unit ﬁnance. who were complicit. and there’s an undeﬁned line between the two that the Army never crosses. Ulrich said.” Article II.” White said. but with the four Chiefs themselves.” Thomas White. Ofﬁcers mingled in the hallways in dress-green droves. he praised his immediate commander for wisdom and compassion.
. Barrett Firearms
48 THE NEW YORKER. the only one they may get in their careers. 2005
showed off its new . and the gathering transformed the lower level of the Washington Convention Center into an arms bazaar. A week before the Presidential election. McMaster ﬁnds fault not just with Robert McNamara. It follows an attack on the United States. But they will also tell you that the war is excruciating.” he said. trace its trajectory backward. and done so publicly. the Association of the United States Army held its annual convention in Washington. R. most of the time. where. “They should have put their stars on the table and said. “To spend more than a year at war without a Secretary of the Army is unthinkable.